According to the National Restaurants Association estimates, ghost kitchens are among the fastest-growing culinary outlets. Currently, the online food delivery market has an annual growth rate of 10.39%, culminating in a projected net worth of $23 billion by 2023.
One of the most important pillars for a ghost kitchen’s success is investing in the right equipment. Having the right equipment and tools will help you achieve faster and efficient delivery to your customers. Therefore, in your choice of kitchen equipment, be sure to check that it will help achieve your ghost kitchen requirements. Here are some factors to consider when buying kitchen equipment. Plus, we have a detailed guide on ghost kitchen requirements and a list of equipment you should buy.
First off, here is a brief overview of cloud kitchens.
What is a Ghost Kitchen?
It is a virtual kitchen space located out of a dine-in restaurant that offers catering orders, take-out, and delivery services. It exists online, without a physical store that clients can visit. Ghost kitchens are also known as “cloud kitchens,” “dark kitchens,” “virtual restaurants,” or “delivery-only restaurants because they operate entirely from the back end.
Most cloud kitchens use commercial kitchen spaces only for purposes of food preparation. As a result, they partner with third apps to deliver their take-out orders. Therefore by tapping an app on your phone screen, you can order a delicious cuisine from a virtual kitchen a mile away.
Ghost Kitchen Equipment Requirement
A virtual kitchen setup can save substantial front-end costs. However, significant investment still goes into equipping the right types of equipment for your kitchen
Here is a list of basic equipment to buy for your ghost kitchen:
1. Exhaust Hood
An exhaust hood is an all-important kitchen accessory that promotes air circulation. It filters out cooking odors, smoke, fumes, and combustion products from the fire point.
You have two options for all commercial food services: fire prevention and heat/moisture prevention system.
A fire prevention hood is ideal for kitchen equipment that produces smoke and grease during food preparation. Excessive smoke in the kitchen comes from grilling, boiling, and frying activities.
On the other hand, if you mostly do baking and steaming, you require a hood system that removes heat and moisture.
Take your kitchen design to a higher level with a perfect countertop. When selecting a kitchen counter, the design comes in handy to make your kitchen fashionable and boost aesthetic appeal. Talk of design; you can go for natural stone or composite materials such as steel, marble, quartz, and granite. You also want a countertop that blends with your floors and cabinet designs.
Steel counters stand out because they are durable and resistant to corrosion. Cleaning is also easy using some damp cloth, water, and detergent.
3. Refrigerators and Freezers
Proper food storage preserves leftovers and reduces spoilage of perishable items. Hence, you require a refrigerator and a freezer for chilled foods such as ice creams and desserts.
Before buying refrigerators, conduct some market research for the best brands available. If storage capacity is your priority, then you’d want separate units for fridges and refrigerators. However, if storage capacity is not of concern, you may acquire a combined unit with a 1000-liter capacity. Be sure to check that your supplier offers warranty and technical assistance in case of a malfunction.
4. Cook Range
An efficient, reliable heating model ensures your food is properly cooked and ready when required. You can buy a range containing an oven and cooking accessories like burners and a grill. Alternatively, you could go for a flat surface cooktop. It is installed inside the cooktop and comes with a set of controls.
Whether you opt for a cooktop or a stove, you should consider how to power your system. Your options include natural gas and electricity. While gas ranges have easily adjustable knobs to control heat settings, electric ranges are elegant and easy to clean.
Your kitchen is not complete without a standard oven for baked products and pastries. The type of oven depends on the available kitchen space and what food types you will prepare.
If you have inadequate space, a combination oven is ideal as it combines three cooking methods; steam, convection, or a combination of both. However, they are more expensive than conventional or steam ovens.
6. Commercial Fryer
For most cloud kitchens, a major factor when buying a fryer is its power consumption. Gas fryers require little energy to operate but are not easy to install. On the other hand, electric fryers are easy to install but are expensive and consume a lot of power.
Fryers also come in various sizes and performance metrics. As a result, you should consider various models before settling for the best option.
Cleanliness is an essential factor determining the quality of food served to clients. Sinks, therefore, help maintain kitchen hygiene and food goals. Whether it’s a single, double, or triple unit, your kitchen should always be clean. In addition, a dishwashing unit should complement your kitchen sinks.
8. Fire Equipment
Vegetable oils and highly flammable gases can pose a serious risk of fire hazards in cloud kitchens. A fire suppressant provides a safe and efficient to extinguish fire hazards in the kitchen. The current standard is to install a system that automatically detects fire or heat and counters it before an outbreak. The system uses fire sensors and wet chemicals to prevent fire hazards.
Modern fire suppression systems can easily fit into kitchen foods. Before purchasing fire suppression, consider the size of the kitchen. The system should be adequate for the whole kitchen room or building. Furthermore, it should conform to the local fire safety standards and regulations to prevent complications.
9. Cutting Boards
Stainless steel countertops are indeed durable. But you should cut, chop, or slice foodstuffs on stainless steel tops o check on durability. Instead, cutting boards are the most ideal to withstand cuts and slices. When buying a chopping board, consider wood or plastic surfaces as they are easy to clean and maintain.
10. Kitchen Shelves
Shelves come in handy to boost storage space for food and other small items. Kitchen shelves come in various sizes and types, so it all depends on your storage needs. Regardless of your choice, it should be flexible enough to allow easy movement when cleaning the walls or surfaces.
11. Food Warmers
Versatile warmers help restaurant operators deliver food at the required temperature if prepared earlier. When looking for food warmers, go for the ultra-thin profile that accommodates multiple flavors while occupying a small space.
12. Utensil Holders
During food preparation, chefs require utensil holders for equipment heated above 140° F. It prevents burns and injuries in the kitchen.
Additionally, safe food handling recommends using holders when handling kitchen utensils to avoid transferring germs into the food.
Important Considerations When Buying Kitchen Equipment
When setting up your kitchen, you need heavy-duty equipment to meet your market and maximize profits. In addition, your choice of equipment should be energy efficient, hence saving on operating costs.
Take a look at five significant factors to consider when buying equipment for an off-dine restaurant
1. Energy Efficiency
When buying kitchen equipment, upfront cost matters, but it also pays to consider the lifetime cost. You can invest in energy-efficient appliances that will consume power. You want a reduction in utility bills that will contribute to your savings in the long run.
2. Kitchen Space
How spacious is the kitchen? Will the equipment fit and leave some extra space for other functions? You can go for modular equipment for every function if you have enough space. However, if you operate in a limited space, multi-functional appliances such as combi-ovens will be a perfect option.
3. Maintenance Cost
When choosing kitchen equipment, consider how much it will cost to stay in perfect working condition. You should conduct scheduled maintenance to prevent unexpected breakdowns. If you require spare parts, will they be readily available?
4. Upfront Cost
Mostly, it makes sense to factor in how much you’ll spend upfront in acquiring kitchen equipment. Renting may sometimes prove more sensible than a brand-new purchase if you work on a limited budget. Renting also allows you to upgrade gradually without paying high upfront costs.
5. Market Demand
Market demand has a significant effect on the type of equipment to choose. If you have a high demand for your products, it makes more sense to acquire heavy-duty equipment that matches the demand. You don’t want the kind of equipment that slows production and speed of delivery.
Ghost Kitchen Requirements
You should fulfill essential requirements for a smooth operation of an online kitchen. They include packaging and delivery services that ensure your food retains its quality before it arrives at the consumer. Besides, you should consider the kitchen concept, safety measures, and menu consistency.
Here we take an in-depth look into the factors that will make your daily operation smooth:
1. Operational Equipment and Delivery Services
Solid operational software can automate the different segments of the ghost kitchen, including linking to partner restaurants and customers. Therefore, you can easily keep track of all orders and details of your business. Examples of automation software include Kitchen Display Service (KDS) and Point of Sale (POS) systems.
Through a kitchen display system, your staff can glance at all orders to deliver. They can get detailed information on the number of food items required and inventory the amount available for consumption. Therefore, they can work speedily while also preventing errors in orders delivery.
Integrating POS and KDS enables order acceptance from various websites and third-party apps.
Choose a multifaceted platform when looking for an automated operation and delivery system. First, it should support seamless integration with third-party apps to ensure delivery speed.
Secondly, it should have a centralized management system that enables restaurant functions from any location. A centralized system incorporates ordering, delivery, inventory, third-party integration, and reporting functions.
2. Safety Measures
Safety in the kitchen is paramount, and virtual kitchens are no exception. If you operate a ghost kitchen, you are responsible for food safety and the safety of other staff that assists you. Safety consideration goes a long way to prevent accidents and food-borne infections.
Here are some safety rules you can incorporate to protect your staff and food deliverables:
3. Prioritize Food Safety
As a restaurant operator, food safety is your responsibility. In a food-borne illnesses outbreak, the blame falls on the ghost kitchen and not third-party delivery partners. You don’t want to bear the brunt of negative reviews that will impact your hard-earned reputation.
As a result, you should be proactive in minimizing potential risks. Document the right precautions and procedures for all parties involved. It should strongly show that you did everything to prevent it during an outbreak.
4. Wear Protective Gear
All staff should wear protective equipment at all times in the kitchen. Everyone should wear masks, gloves, and overcoats from cooks, customer attendants, and food preparation staff.
5. Conduct Sanitary Dispensing
Health, safety, and sanitation are top-of-mind for operators and customers alike. Thus, selecting the right equipment helps support an all-around safer experience.
Kitchen operators should strive to put sanitizing stations throughout the kitchen and in the pick-up area by the entrance and exit.
Currently, there are contactless dispensers that use a sensor to detect the user‘s hand and dispense a hand sanitizing agent without any contact.
By allowing users to dispense without touching the dispenser, contact-free units reduce shared touchpoints between staff members, creating a safer environment.
6. Segment Your Kitchen
In the season of the global pandemic, it is only crucial to segment your kitchen reduce personal contact. For instance, you can have separate food preparation, storage, packaging, and delivery spaces.
The preparation area should be distinct in a shared kitchen space of great emphasis. Cross-contamination can easily occur due to shared equipment or food handled by different parties. A good practice is to prepare fish and meat separately from ready-to-eat stuff like salads.
7. Clean the Kitchen Regularly
The kitchen space requires daily cleaning and sanitation of the floors, countertops, and kitchen equipment. For equipment sanitization, follow the user manual on the best cleaning procedures.
8. Invest In Tamper-proof Packaging
Use tamper-proof sealing of delivery packages to prevent the transfer of foreign items and germs into food.
Below are guidelines you can implement during food packaging;
- Use insulated food bags to maintain the required temperature to preserve freshness.
- Use quality, sturdy packaging materials
- Cover delivery packaging using tight-fitting lids to prevent spillage of liquids
- Seal packaging using tamper-proof stickers to boost customers’ confidence
- Use multilayered bags for packaging. For instance, when packing hot burgers, you can put them inside a plastic bag and wrap them inside a large outer cover
9. Keep Track of the Fridge Temperature
An often neglected food safety measure is the checking of the fridge temperature. This kitchen appliance prevents food spoilage, hence helping retain freshness. The last thing you want is a malfunction or broken-down fridge.
Luckily, modern fridges and freezers have built-in digital thermometers for temperature monitoring. You should monitor the temperature to identify any fluctuations that may point to a malfunction.
10. The Kitchen Concept
One of the biggest factors to consider in setting up a ghost kitchen is the business model. There are different online kitchens models: independent cloud kitchens, multi-brand ghost kitchens, fresh menu single-brand models, multi-restaurant ghost kitchens, and outsourced cooking/delivery.
Before setting up, you should decide which model will work best. Regardless of your choice, all ghost restaurants sharing an off-premise space should have similar concepts and probably similar food preparation methods.
Another important factor in the kitchen model is the equipment setup. A ghost kitchen supports the production of multiple foods from different restaurants. Unfortunately, there may not be sufficient space to accommodate all required equipment.
A robust solution is to acquire a set of multipurpose equipment. For example, modern commercial ovens can handle a combination of steam and conventional cooking. Similarly, some cooking stations incorporate a burner, fryer, and oven as a package. As a result, virtual kitchens can prepare multiple dishes simultaneously.
11. Versatile Kitchen Equipment
You require a set of versatile kitchen equipment that can produce a consistent volume of food without compromising its quality. This helps meet the demand of your clients’ orders as they come.
Furthermore, versatile kitchen equipment lets you prepare food in advance yet still make it ready for delivery when required. Thus, you’ll improve on delivery time and produce high-quality food.
Are You Ready to Set Up Your Ghost Kitchen?
If you have a nice culinary idea and looking for a cheap alternative to tap the market, then the cloud kitchen is your bet. Unlike a full-range restaurant, you require little investment yet reach a huge customer base. In addition, a good choice of kitchen equipment goes a long way to boost efficiency and maximize your profits.
Contact your nearest supplier for heavy-duty, commercial kitchen equipment.